NEW YORK — The Yankees picked Matt Carpenter off the scrap heap in late May. He was coming off two terrible seasons. But he was also a three-time All-Star, and at 36 years old, it was a small risk to give him a minimum-salary contract.
He swing might be back to All-Star form.
He didn’t shoot the idea down.
“I certainly feel good,” he told reporters after continuing his renaissance with a seven-RBI, two-homer performance in a 18-4 laugher over the Cubs at Yankee Stadium on Sunday.
“I feel like I’ve played the long enough to know what it feels like and looks like when I’m right, and this is certainly that.”
Through his first 10 games, Carpenter has been a monster. He’s crushed six home runs with 13 RBI and a 1.592 OPS.
While he might not continue at this impressive of a pace, he’s made enough consistent hard contact and had good enough at-bats for the Yankees to believe his offseason swing overhaul has worked wonders.
“I don’t really have words for it,” Carpenter said of his hot stretch. “I obviously feel good at the plate and I’ve got my swing where I want it and I’m just trying to go out and execute and take it a pitch at a time.”
His seven RBI tied a career high. By clubbing six homers in his first seven hits with the Yankees, he became the second person since 1900 to accomplish the feat. The last was Trevor Story with Colorado in 2016.
Sunday marked Carpenter’s first game started since June 3 and his first game playing the field all season. He started at third base.
“I put him in the garage for a week and pulled him out for a spin. I mean, that’s impressive,” manager Aaron Boone said.
“Just been a lot of really good at-bats,” Boone continued. “Tremendous play down there at third. Really impressive. You’re seeing the fruits of some labor that he put in over the winter time and I know he was very curious to go find out in spring. training and early this year and he’s seeing the fruits of that from a guy that’s been a really talented player in this league for a while.”
Starting pitcher Jameson Taillon said that Carpenter fit in the second he showed up.
“Super professional,” Taillon said. “Acts like he’s been on the team forever. Great teammate. He fits right in in the lineup, too. I think he also benefits from hitting around all those big guys.”
Taillon added, “He looks like the Matt Carpenter that I watched as an All-Star player with the Cardinals.”
Carpenter said late spring training was when he felt his swing begin to click into place.
“I knew I was trending in the right direction,” he said. “I got this opportunity and here we are.”
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Brendan Kuty may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.